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Heed the call

After almost two years of no contact and no relationship, he announced a visit in January of 2015. This visit was approximately 10 days.   The following story is based on that visit and one of the first times that I refused to heed the call.

I grabbed the blanket and tucked it next to my face and back, the cold January air seemed to sneak through the windows and under the doors, leaving behind a biting frigid air. My mouth opened and whispy breath left behind clouds of white that gently billowed out and and into the night. I looked through the room and over to Foof’s bed to see if the loud cumbersome footsteps had woken her. Two more hours until dawn remained, but now they seemed to drag behind me, frozen like the Palouse winter. At first the thuds and whacks on the upstairs floor had been audible but sounded like one of the children on a late night water run, passing through the hall, into the entry way and kitchen. I dismissed them and returned to my guarded sleep, trying to grab the last two hours of rest before school lunches, laundry and daily routine were in full swing. A door shut and then reopened, the doorknob jiggled violently, cupboards clanked and shuttered as the storm passed overhead.  A patterned marching began and continued until it became a series of  thundering, strident blows, each more pronounced, a secret signal. The reminder that, “we were on American soil” raced in and out of my mind but could no longer be heard above the patrolled  fury and rage that built as the call was not answered.  I remained in one position listening to the upstairs tirade that came and went in waves, intent on holding my ground and letting it pass.

I had exiled myself to Foof’s downstairs bedroom when he made his first visit after two years of absence. I hoped that leaving distance between us, would cool his temper and serve as a barrier in this make shift state of peace. The previous days had slowly passed and each morning I heard the bedroom door open, the footsteps that turned to marching and each day I had hurled myself out of bed and up the stairs, hoping to keep him from waking the children. Rhetorical questions reminiscent of days and nights in Saudi had now become accusations of alienation, possible infidelity and thievery. I sat in my chair sipping forbidden coffee, nervously checking my phone as he held my hand, insisting that I join him for a predawn walk to help clear the air, discuss our marital life and future. He assured me that he understood me well, that no one loved me as he did and that this unfortunate course of events was due to the meddling influence of others. I sat glued to my recliner refusing to budge, answering queries one by one until the morning sun rose and my daily chores were unavoidable.

Reality blared loud and  footsteps regained their pace, marching now on the stairs and back up.  I sat upright in my bed, placing my feet on the bare floor, listening quietly and intently. The footsteps returned hard and fast just above my head with an intensity that had been absent in previous episodes. My stomach swished and turned nervously, hands shaking I grabbed my phone and struggled to stand. I had no choice but to accept the warning and return to duty, hoping to bring calm once again.  As I stood, straightening my back, collecting myself for the next round, I heard a soft voice from across the room, “MOM, do not go upstairs”.

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